Paschal Epistle of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry

Paschal Epistle of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry - Holy Cross Monastery

To the archpastors, pastors, monks, and all faithful children of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church:

Christ is Risen!

With these holy and eternally alive words, I congratulate all of you – God-loving archpastors and pastors, pious monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters – on our greatest Christian feast, the Bright and Glorious Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

"Having seen the Resurrection of Christ, let us bow down before the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless one" (Paschal hymn) – with these words, the Holy Church addresses us with love, respectfully calling us to this Easter celebration, the celebration of the great victory of Divine Love over human malice.

Love is life, and malice is death, therefore the holiday of the Bright Resurrection of Christ is a great day for celebrating the victory of life over death. As St. Gregory of Nyssa says, death is destroyed by life.

This year's Holy Pascha holiday, like last year's, we celebrate amid the sounds of cannon fire, the sounds of mothers weeping over their killed sons, wives over their deceased husbands, and orphans over their dead parents. To our great sorrow, Russia continues its war against Ukraine.

However, no tragedy can overshadow the joy of Easter. God, Our Creator and Saviour, out of His love for us sinners, came to earth, took on our deformed human nature, took on all our sins, and through His voluntary suffering and death on the Cross, destroyed them and as a great Victor gloriously rose from the dead. The Bright Resurrection of Christ became the beginning of a new, beautiful, and bright era of human existence on earth.

Through His glorious Resurrection, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ destroyed hell and took away the power of death. Henceforth, people who believe in and love the Risen Christ, who live by His holy commandments, become unreachable by hell: hell cannot possess them, and physical death becomes a temporary sleep from which each of us will awaken on the day of the general resurrection when the Lord will come to earth to perform His righteous Judgment.

Those who live with Christ and in Christ are filled with wonderful Divine grace, which makes them conquerors of evil. Such people, even in the midst of temptations and spiritual struggles, stand steadfastly and say together with the Apostle: ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ and humbly thank God Who gave them victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

Some people think that those who love Christ and live in Christ should be protected by Christ as the Victor over death from earthly temptations and evil so that nothing evil should touch them. But this is not the case. Christianity does not free a person from the temptations of this world; it gives a person the grace-filled strength to overcome temptations worthily. The grace of God makes the believer invincible. In the last days of His saving ministry, our Savior and Lord said these words: "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). These words were spoken to the holy Apostles, but they were addressed not only to the Apostles but also to all followers of Christ, including us, the faithful children of the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, the Church that embraces the whole earth with Christ's love.

Today, the Lord, in His mercy, has allowed certain sorrows and trials to befall our Holy Church, through which He gives us the opportunity, the chance to become stronger and spiritually perfected. Some of us, when faced with injustice, try to find a way in life where there are no modern sorrows and trials. Of course, such paths exist and they can be found, but we must remember that smooth roads lead to hell, while the gates to the Heavenly Kingdom are rocky and narrow (Matt. 7:13-14). If we want to be true followers of our risen Lord Jesus Christ, we should not worry about what people say about us, but rather, we should worry about not having evil in our souls so that what people say about us is untrue. This is what Sacred Scripture teaches us: ‘Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you.... Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.’ (1 Peter 4:12-19).

Once again, I congratulate all of you, dear brothers and sisters, on the great day of the Bright Resurrection of Christ. During these holy days, we humbly thank the Lord God, our Creator, for His infinite love for us fallen humans. By His wisdom and spiritual beauty, the Lord accomplished the feat of our salvation and, through His Resurrection, opened the way to Paradise and eternal blessed life for every person. Today, we rejoice together with the holy Apostles and Myrrh-Bearers, who were the first to hear the news that Christ is risen! These two sacred words sounded throughout the world and changed the world. And today, they call us to change ourselves: to cast out anger and hatred from our hearts and fill them with love for God and for one another, to comfort the orphan and extend a helping hand to those in need.

May our Saviour and Lord, who gloriously rose from the dead and, through His Resurrection, raised up our fallen ancestor, continue to raise and keep us all in goodness and bless our land with peace. Happy Holy Easter, Happy the Great Day of the Bright Resurrection of Christ!

Christ is risen indeed!


† Onuphry,

Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine.

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